Module Catalogue 2020/21

GEO2123 : Social experiments, diverse economies: Copenhagen Field Course

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Helen Jarvis
  • Lecturer: Mrs Helene Gadsden
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Off Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

It is recommended that students have taken a human geography (GEO1010, GEO1015) module at stage 1.

Co Requisites
Code Title
GEO2043Key Methods for Human Geographers
Co Requisite Comment

In addition to GEO2043, it is recommended that students study at least one of GEO2110 (Social Geographies), GEO2099 (Economic Geography) or GEO2047 (Political Geography.


• To provide, by means of practical field work and experiential education (learning by doing), an understanding of the inter-related changes and challenges in the social, economic and cultural development of a European (Scandinavian) city - Copenhagen.

• To focus on selected (prominent and highly contested) urban sites of contrasting social and economic milieu in order to critically consider the distinctive features, common themes, competing interest-groups and wider social and economic consequences implicated in these case-studies.

• This module explores ‘social experiments’ (e.g. collective efforts to live and work against the grain of municipal planning, challenging dominant social norms) and ‘diverse economic spaces and practices’, focusing in particular on a continuum of tourist economies that include theme-park capitalism, selling the vision of an alternative society, and the illegal sale of hash.

• The module critically engages with different meanings and interpretations of ‘freedom’ ‘social responsibility’ and ‘alterity’, to ask how free (inclusive) and alternative these experiments are to what we understand as the dominant social and economic norms of mainstream planning and policy. It also examines how recent trends of change in Scandinavian social democracy (emphasizing egalitarian gender and social relations) influences the alternative practices and spaces that are specifically found in Copenhagen, in a context of rising popular and political conflict over immigration and defence of diversity and assistance for refugees.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lectures (each 2 hours) before visiting Copenhagen:
1.(Timetable Week 22) Introduction to module: key concepts and themes
2.(TW 26) Copenhagen in context: challenging the stereotypes of Scandinavian tolerance; the political struggle over the Freetown Christiania
3.(TW 27) Researching the city: making connections to core themes. Group project development
4.(TW 28) Trip logistics. Urban public life and diverse economic practices.
5. (TW 33) Reflect and feedback on the trip and assessment

The one week residential trip runs from Sunday (arrive by pm) to Friday (depart midday):
Day 1 Copenhagen in context walking tour(s); guest lectures afternoon and evening.
Day 2 Psychogeography; from capitalism to Christiania; guest lectures afternoon and evening.
Day 3 Cycle-mobility (cycling strategy and rental bikes). Group projects
Day 4 Group project work. Group presentations.
Day 5 Debrief and depart

Liveability: a ‘good city’ for all or a ‘good life’ for some?
Bicycle cultures, urban infrastructure and everyday mobility
Low carbon urbanism: reduce, reuse, recycle
Meeting places and spaces of democratic possibility
Spaces of alternative economic practice
Performing 'Cool Copenhagen'
Social inclusion, spatial justice and well-being
Creative cities, colliding cultures
Learning from Christiania

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:
•Critically engage with key concepts, competing theories and contrasting case study examples on a continuum from capital-intensive to community-led development; to recognise the contested functions of ‘freedom’ and ‘alterity’
•Explore Copenhagen (three specific, contrasting sites and settings) through a range of theoretical approaches and case studies of everyday life
•Critically evaluate the use of various methodologies for researching the city
•Consider Copenhagen’s social, economic and urban development geographies and the relationships between these.
•Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of contemporary social, economic and urban development issues and debates from multiple interest-group perspectives.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:
•Work with others to gain information from experts, field visits and other sources
•Understand the constraints of working in overseas locations and show ethical and cultural sensitivity in the field
•Synthesise and summarise data and present findings in written and oral presentation form within a given time period
•Acknowledge the multi-faceted nature of the issues experienced by major urban centres
•Organise observations in a field diary and produce a fieldwork report
•Reflect on learning in the field

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture52:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading130:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork58:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study180:0080:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The preliminary lectures will serve as an introduction to both Copenhagen and the methodological issues involved in researching city life. Preliminary lectures (delivered via multi-purpose format, combined with interactive workshops) will include historical trends in the social and economic development of three key sites of study; Tivoli Gardens (19th C. theme park); Christiania (former squatter settlement which continues to operate at the margins of municipal law/social norms); and Roskilde (new town and cohousing ecovillage), drawing on a variety of media representations including films, oral histories, guide-books and social media. Fieldwork will be based on guided study visits, guest lectures and seminars and will provide students with opportunities to explore modes of learning beyond the university. Both before and after the fieldtrip, students will be encouraged to dedicate further time to reading and the development of their knowledge and understanding of the issues, conflicts and interest groups involved.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination152M2515 mins poster presentation during Fieldtrip. To be scheduled by the School.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M251000 word (2 part) fieldwork preparation (before fieldtrip).
Reflective log2M502000 word essay (2 parts including 1000 word reflective log to accompany field notebook).
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Before departing for Copenhagen, all students will be required to complete a portfolio-essay (1,000) (25%) written in two sections to include a review of relevant literature on a selected theme, a reading summary of two key texts and a ‘visitors guide’ to Danish society/Copenhagen. This will ground students’ experiences in the relevant literature and familiarise students with key concepts and cultural contexts specific to specific sites and themes to be explored during the field work.

During the fieldtrip, students will be required to work in groups to design a poster demonstrating their understanding of multiple actor-perspectives/ competing interests (tourists, traders, residents etc.) representing one of the selected projects drawing on evidence gained during the trip.
During the fieldtrip, students will be required to keep a diary in order to record their observations and encounters and to reflect on their own position in the field and changes that may occur in their own understanding of the sites and social settings visited (as first a tourist and then as an ethnographer).

For the final fieldwork essay (2,000) (50%) students are expected to combine evidence gained during the course of the study visits with secondary sources and relevant academic literature, making sense of this data in conjunction with field diary reflections. The structure of the assessment will allow student to reflect on the differences between learning in the field and learning in the lecture theatre (or learning about a society/space through the medium of a guide-book).


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

The cost of living in Denmark is higher than it is in the UK and this should be factored into anticipated daily expenditure of food, drink and consumable which are not included with the cost of the field trip.

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.